This trail begins on the Old Faithful
to West Thumb road at a large pullout just west of Craig Pass and ends at an intersection with the Lone Star Geyser Trail
. It shares a trailhead with the Divide Trail
This Spring Creek Trail is primarily used as a winter ski trail (skiers can get a snowcoach drop at the trailhead and ski 7 miles downhill to Old Faithful
using the Spring Creek, Lone Star Geyser and Kepler Cascade trails). However, it also makes a pleasant summer hike along a lovely small creek on a trail once used as an old stagecoach road.
From the trailhead, head south .1 mile, cross Spring Creek, and turn right at the trail junction. From here the trail makes a gradual 400-foot descent over the next 4 miles following the creek as it winds its way to meet the Firehole River.
Spring Creek was named by members of the 1885 USGS Hague Survey for the large amount of water coming out from beneath the rhyolite rock found on the south side of the creek. The trail, which crosses back and forth across the small creek numerous times, follows an old 1891 stagecoach road. The road was later moved north to follow the current highway, and this trail was used by horse parties and later by hikers. A number of the old wooden bridges remain, but over time they have decayed and many are no longer passable, making this otherwise easy hike a bit of a pain at times.
At the 1.6-mile mark the trail enters a shallow canyon and closely follows the creek. As the canyon becomes deeper and the trail makes a brief climb above the creek (around the 2.2-mile mark), keep an eye out to the left along the creek for a sharp pinnacle of rock. This is Turtle Rock. A keen observer will be able to make out the shape of a turtle in the rock about eye-level with the trail. At this spot in 1908 the largest stagecoach holdup in history occurred. The bandit, who was never caught, robbed 17 stagecoaches, one after the other, taking more than $2,000 from 174 tourists.
From Turtle Rock, the trail continues beck and forth across the creek and eventually reaches a bridged crossing of the Firehole River near the mouth of the creek as it empties into the Firehole. Just beyond the bridge, the trail terminates at the junction with the Lone Star Geyser Trail
. To the left, Lone Star Geyser lies just under a mile away. To the right, the trail leads 1.6 miles to the highway near Kepler Cascades
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone